Published on November 8th, 2012 | by Jordan
What to do After an Accident
Collisions can happen to any driver; regardless of how diligent or cautious you are on the road, environmental hazards and distracted motorists can always get the best of you. Emotions can often run high after an auto-incident, so it’s easy for either party to overlook certain details or forget to take down important information in the midst of it all. Accidents can result in conflicting stories and details if not dealt with and documented properly, but doing so means keeping a clear head throughout the process. This article will break down the most important rules and processes to follow directly after being in a collision.
Preparation is Key
For starters, keep a pen and pad of paper in your glove compartment; it seems like an archaic way of taking down information with most mobile phones having a ‘notes’ feature, but the last thing you want is for slow-loading menus to interfere with taking down a rapidly-disappearing license plate during a hit and run. And that’s assuming it’s not buried in your purse, luggage or backpack at the time. On this same point, a disposable camera will work wonders for capturing details quickly. License plate numbers, damage (to both cars), involved parties and the current time can be recorded with the snap of a shutter. Cell phone cameras serve the same purpose and make sharing/storing the photos easier, but can present the same difficulties as they do with taking notes. You can never be sure who’s on the other end of the accident, so prepare accordingly.
If it happens
Above all else, stay calm. Your safety comes first, so check for injuries thoroughly before attempting to exit the vehicle. In the case of a minor collision where both cars are drivable, turn on your hazard lights and move to a safe place; if that happens to be the side of the road, utilize cones, warning triangles and flares to let oncoming motorists know to steer clear of the area. Be polite, but never assume or point blame directly; keep discussion about the accident limited to the police and insurance agent. If there were any witnesses, make sure to get their information as well; it’s not uncommon for stories to suddenly conflict once people go their separate ways.
What to make note of
Remember: there’s no such thing as too much information. Take photos and/or obtain information of the cars involved, the intersection or surroundings where the incident occurred (which will also capture weather conditions), damages sustained on all vehicles involved, occupants of both vehicles, witness information and any other information such as tow operator information, EMS personal/report numbers or any other party information who are at the accident scene. Once you have all the details recorded, notify your insurance agent immediately to find out how to proceed.
Who to call
If the accident is not an emergency, call the local police for instructions. In Ontario, all personal injury accidents and all accidents resulting in property damage of $1,000 or higher must be reported to the Police. A number of areas have special programs in effect. Metropolitan Toronto, for example, has several Collision Reporting Centres (CRC)* where you must report in person to these centres within 24 hours (only if police were not present at the scene). When in doubt, call the police and they will instruct you accordingly.
Know your rights
You can dictate where your car is taken to have assessed or repaired. If in doubt, have your vehicle dropped at a Collision Reporting Centre or the nearest reputable dealership and call CAA Insurance. We can arrange CAA Tow Trucks to move your vehicle to a location of your choice, or suggest a reputable collision centre to have it brought to. Do not be persuaded by tow operators or other parties. Many municipalities cap towing and storage costs. CAA Auto Insurance pays for reasonable tow fees and storage costs on losses covered by the Ontario Auto Policy. We encourage our Members/policyholders not to sign anything that is not clear or required by law. When in doubt, consult a CAA Insurance expert before making any commitments. Be informed.
Staying calm and remembering these tips are the keys to ensuring a safe and thorough post-collision inspection. For more information on claims, visit CAA Insurance.
*Collision Reporting Centre is a Police and Private facility that assists motorists in reporting motor vehicle collisions to the Police.
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